Saturday, September 04, 2004


"To love is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one…Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfish­ness…The only alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers, all the perturbations of love is hell." (C. S. Lewis)

I have a distinctly ambivalent relationship to C. S. Lewis. His children's novels passed me by, I confess. And his Christian writings mainly came upon me when I was working in adult theological education, trying gently to wean people off some of the faux apologetic strategies that seemed a by-product of their encounter with his brilliant but narrowly scholastic mind.

What is more remarkable about Lewis than his allegorical accounts of faith, in my fragile opinion, is the depth of insightful feeling that can emerge (in quotations like this) from one so evidently steeped in moralism. It's like a breaking free, much as Kierkegaard's disturbing inner repression gave rise to flights of hopeful imagination. God is no respecter of our constraints.

This quotation seems particularly apt in an age of obsessive consumption - the new moralism for the post-moral.

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